One of the first
It is well recognized that John Barriger orchestrated the Monon's Dieselization, but the instrumental role that the CI&L's previous trustee, L.R. DeRamus, played in the Hoosier Line's dieselization is less remarked. In fact, when the Monon directors met on May 10, 1946, and discussed dieselization, the question was not whether to place diesel orders, but how to treat new diesel orders already placed with Eletro-Motive by trustee DeRamus.
The vision of dieselizing the Monon was half a decade old when John Barriger arrived. The first spark had occurred in 1940, when Electro-Motive's famed FT demonstrator, No 103 worked on the CI&L. The four unit A-B-B-A, 5,400-hp, yellow and olive prototype sent several days on the CI&L, covering the entire Chicago to Louisville mainline, but worked primarily between McDoel Yard and KI&T's Youngtown Yard. Electro-Motive #103 spent 141 days on the Monon and rolled up 1,896 miles. The set was operated in three different configurations. In a test of a two unit A-B set, the diesel lugged 2,500 tons from Louisville to McDoel in 3 hours and 44 minutes. A three unit form hauled 3,000 tons from Louisville to McDoel in 3 hours and 51 minutes. In the full A-B-B-A lash up, 103 hauled 3,750 tons in 3 hours and 18 minutes. In comparison, Monon's most potent steam locomotive, J-2A with booster could handle 2,150 tons between Louisville and McDoel in roughly 4 hours.
Following the demonstration, DeRamus had taken the first steps toward diselization with the July 22, 1941 order to Electro-Motive. The Monon had ordered four diesel switchers, delivered in 1942 and two FT 4,050-hp A-B-A diesel sets. This order for the FT's was cancelled on December 4, 1941, three days before Pearl Harbor.
In 1945, the Monon ordered four additional switchers, EMD NW2's, then in December increased that order to five. Also in December 1945 the Monon placed another order with EMD for 18 freight service F-3's. A dozen F-3As were to be paired in A-A sets and carry road numbers 3000A/B - 3005 A/B. Four F-3s and two F-3Bs were to be linked in A-B-A sets and given the road numbers 4500A/B/C - 4501A/B/C. The Monon changed the order, for the NW2s, in January of 1946. Not in quantity, but in model. The order was changed from NW2 to NW5 light road switchers. The final pre-Barriger order came in March of 1946 when a trio of EMD E-7A passenger units were ordered and would carry road numbers 2000-2002.
While dealing with EMD, the Monon also reached an agreement with Baldwin Locomotive Works to do a study of diselization of the Monon and their findings: the Monon should fully diselize, and they of course offered a proposal with BLW units. When Barriger assumed control he inherited the EMD orders. Barriger appointed Frank Cheshire as his Chief Mechanical Officer and announced his intentions to completely dieselizing the Monon. The existing EMD orders were agreeable to new management, with changes. The NW-5 order was recast to its original form, four NW-2s. As for the F-3s? Instead of six A-A freight sets, the order was revised to two sets, with road numbers 3000A/B-3001 A/B. The A-B-A sets were increased in number to four A-B-A sets, road numbers 4500 A/B/C-4503A/B/C. The E-7s were cancelled altogether on July 8, 1946.
In September, more refinements were made to the order. The F-3 order was increased to include four freight service A-A sets which were numbered 51A/B-54A/B. Minor changes in road numbers were made in the EMD order. The Monon also placed orders with Fairbanks-Morse for a H-10-44 switcher 1,000-hp to be used at Lafayette. From Alco-GE they ordered a single 1,500-hp RS2 road switcher to be used on the French Lick branch for passenger service.
Over the next few years, the thinking and rethinking of the diselization needs changed and more units were ordered. The Monon was one of the first railroads to be completely deiselized. By 1949 the dieselization was complete and on July 13, 1949 the Monon officially retired its last two Mikados, J-2s 560 and 565 and on September 14, 1949 the steam era died when 4-8-0 #229 and 0-6-0 #95 were retired. 95 had been stationed at New Albany was the final steam locomotive in service. Its fires were dropped, June 29, 1949
Source: Steve and Gary Dolzall, Monon, The Hoosier Line
@2012 Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society, Inc.